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Lesson Plan

Dr. Seuss's Sound Words: Playing with Phonics and Spelling

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Dr. Seuss's Sound Words: Playing with Phonics and Spelling

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Boom! Br-r-ring! Cluck! Moo!—Everywhere you turn, you are bound to find exciting sounds. Students begin exploring these sounds through a read-aloud of Dr. Seuss's Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You? They then play with the sounds in their classroom, creating words that capture what they hear. Next, they explore sounds from selected Websites and record what they hear on a chart, using spelling strategies to help them. Finally, students create original cinquain poems using sound words.

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Sound Observation Chart: Students can use this chart to spell out sounds they hear on a Website and record related information.

Spelling Observation Checklist: Use this checklist to assess the strategies students use as they write out the sound words they hear.

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Playing with the meaning and spelling of sounds comes easily to children. A child's first sounds and words come from playful repetition, gurgling, and babbling. As Nikola-Lisa explains in her article "Sound and Sense in Children's Picture Books," "The repetition of key sounds or words is instrumental in helping young children learn the sounds of language, ultimately enabling them to associate sounds with their respective graphemes" (169).  As students focus on sound words, they begin with their ability to hear and mimic the sounds (phonemes) that they hear. From this beginning step, students move on to use spelling strategies to create the graphemes that represent those sounds. As outlined by Bouffler (1984), primary students will likely focus on spelling as it sounds, spelling as it sounds out, spelling as it articulates, spelling as it means, as explained in Laminack and Wood's book Spelling in Use: Looking Closely at Spelling in Whole Language Classrooms (13-15).

Further Reading

Laminack, Lester L., and Katie Wood. 1996. Spelling in Use. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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Nikola-Lisa, W. "Sound and Sense in Children's Picture Books." Language Arts 74.3 (March 1997): 168-171.

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